Vietnamese Soul in APEC Attire

Fashion designer Minh Hanh and her employees at the Vietnam Fashion Design Institute (Fadin) in Ho Chi Minh City took more than eight months to make the 21 traditional ao dai costumes and turbans (khan dong) that the APEC leaders will wear for a short time at the closing ceremony of the APEC economic leaders’ meeting on Sunday.

Minh Hanh and her staff worked all day long and had to endure countless requests and checks by government officials before her designs were approved.


She sent photos of ao dai to the APEC leaders in their homelands and received their measurements and color preferences within a month. Blue was the favorite color, requested by 11 of the 21 leaders, who also had the option of red, yellow, green or orange.


Expressing the essence of Viet Nam, the ubiquitous lotus symbolizing pure beauty and refinement has been woven into the Vietnamese silk that the outfits are made of.


Says Minh Hanh: “The difficulty in making the ao dai and the khan dong is that, in the sewing, you must remember that the vertical and horizontal axes stand for the honesty of an honorable man, and the five coat buttons express the philosophy of the five moral obligations. The khan dong (turbans) were wound according to a Chinese character meaning “human”.

 Ảnh minh họa

Before settling o­n the final designs, Hanh examined the traditional costumes used at the APEC economic leaders’ meetings in Thailand and South Korea. She is very confident about using Vietnamese silk and considers it second to none.


Her big hope is that the APEC leaders and the millions watching Sunday’s closing ceremony o­n television will be just as pleased with the costumes as she is.


The ceremony will be broadcast live o­n several Vietnam Television channels and shown by television stations throughout the world.

TT – Translated by SGGP